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Men's Sexual Health Terms

Dr. Lisa Lawless

Dr. Lisa Lawless, CEO of Holistic Wisdom
Clinical Psychotherapist: Relationship & Sexual Health Expert

Phallic Plant, Penis Dictionary

Male Sexual Health Terminology

Explore definitions of terms used when addressing men's sexual health to help you better understand what they mean. Feel free to contact us regarding questions you have concerning our articles or products, as we are happy to assist you.


A vasodilator (Prostaglandin E1) drug that is identical to a substance that naturally occurs in the penis and aids in achieving an erections. Used for erectile dysfunction (ED)


Andropause is the equivalent of male menopause. It is when testosterone levels decrease. Men start having testosterone decline at 30, and more dramatic drops occur in the 50s. See our Andropause Guide for more information. 


The curvature of the penis, usually during erection. An extreme curve may indicate Peyronie's disease. See our educational guide: Why Is The Penis Curved?


A combination of two (Bimix) or the three drugs (Trimix), Papavarine, Phentolamine, and Alprostadil. They are used in penile injection therapy to treat erectile dysfunction (ED). Overall, Trimix is a more effective treatment option.

Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH)

The swelling of the prostate (prostatic hyperplasia / BPH) is a common condition as men age. An enlarged prostate gland causes uncomfortable urination and blocks urine flow out of the bladder. It can also cause urinary tract infections or bladder and kidney problems. Please see our Enlarged Prostate: BPH Treatment Methods Guide for more information.


A disease in which malignant cells grow out of control and spread to other parts of the body. For men, reproductive cancers include colon cancer, prostate cancer, testicle, and penis cancer. See our Sex With Cancer Guide for more information. 


A substance found in animal tissues and various foods. Its level in the bloodstream can influence the development of coronary artery disease. Having unhealthy cholesterol levels can impact erections and contribute to ED. To learn more about how to have health levels of cholesterol, please see our guide: Nutrition Guide for Good Sex & Health.


Circumcision is the removal of the foreskin of the penis. For more information, please see our: Circumcision Guide.

Corpora Cavernosa

A corpus cavernosum penis (singular) or corpora cavernosa (plural ) are two cavities filled with sponge-like tissue run the length of the penis cryotherapy, the use of very low temperatures to destroy cancerous tissue.

Penis DiagramCOVID & Sex

COVID can affect sexual functioning. Learn more through our guides: Sex & COVID and COVID & Erectile Dysfunction.


A disease involving high blood glucose levels and increased urine production is diabetes mellitus. Either of two chronic forms of diabetes in which insulin does not effectively transport glucose from the bloodstream. Uncontrolled diabetes mellitus can damage nerves and veins. Diabetes can cause ED and sexual dysfunction. For more information, please see our Diabetes, Sex & Sex Toys Guide

Dry Orgasms

Dry orgasms are an orgasm that does not produce ejaculate, or very little fluid comes out. For more information, please see our Dry Orgasms Guide


Semen that comes out of the penis at the moment of orgasm. See our guide on How To Make Ejaculate Smell & Taste Better.

Endocrine System

Glands in the body produce hormones. The sex hormones are controlled by the endocrine system. For more information please see our Sex Hormones: Keeping Them Balanced Guide

Erectile Dysfunction (ED)

The inability to achieve or maintain an erection firm enough to begin or complete sexual intercourse. An outdated term for this was impotence. See our helpful guide Sex Toys For Erectile Dysfunction.


The state in which the penis fills with blood and becomes rigid.

Fertility Testing

Fertility testing is how fertility is assessed to determine how viable sperm are to impregnate. For more information, please see our guide: Fertility Testing for Men.


An outdated term describing the inability to achieve and maintain an erection firm enough to begin or complete sexual intercourse. It is more accurately called erectile dysfunction, or ED.

Penile Pump

A penis pump (vacuum pump or a vacuum erection device) is used for erectile dysfunction. It is a plastic tube that is put over the penis and is manually (hand-operated) or battery operated. Older styles have a pump attached to the tube, and a penis ring (constriction ring) goes around the base of the penis to hold the blood inside it. Please see our educational guide on penis pumps called: Penis Enhancement Toys. Please explore our body-safe penis pumps.


Phimosis is when the foreskin of the penis is not able to be pulled back (retracted). Please see our helpful guide for more information: Tight Foreskin: Phimosis.

Malleable Implant

Also called a positionable implant. A malleable implant consists of two bendable rods surgically implanted in the penis that are soft silicone semirigid implants. Learn more through our Penile Implants Guide.


Nitrates are drugs used to treat heart disease. Oral apomorphine is a sublingual (under the tongue) medication that affects brain signals to the penis, such as Nitro-Dur and Isordil, and other medications. Men who take nitrates should never take erectile dysfunction drugs like Viagra, Levitra, or Cialis because taking them both can cause a dangerous drop in blood pressure.

Oral Testosterone

A hormone that can treat impotence in some men with low levels of natural testosterone.


A drug used in penile injection therapy to treat erectile dysfunction.

PDE5 Inhibitor

A drug inhibits the body's absorption of the PDE5 enzyme. Most of the enzyme occurs in the penis, where it helps achieve an erection.

Phosphodiesterase Inhibitor

Another name for a PDE5 inhibitor.

Penile Injection Therapy

A treatment for erectile dysfunction in which a man directly injects one drug or a combination of two or three drugs into the side of his penis. The drugs relax muscles and increase blood flow to create an erection.

Peripheral Vascular System

The body's circulatory system lies outside the cardiac or heart region. Peripheral vascular disease Disease of the peripheral vascular system. Such a disease can impair blood circulation.

Peyronie's Disease

Curvature of the penis, usually during erection, is caused by plaque (hardened or calcified tissues). See our Peyronie's Disease Guide.


A drug used in penile injection therapy for the treatment of erectile dysfunction. 

Psychological Erectile Dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction with a psychological cause. Physical impotence. Erectile dysfunction with an organic cause, such as diabetes, heart disease, or spinal injury.

Priapism Continuous

Often painful erection of the penis. Priapism usually is due to a condition such as Peyronie's disease. It may also be a side effect of treatment for ED involving urethral suppositories or direct injection of the penis.

Prostate Gland

A male gland surrounding the urethra at the base of the bladder. The prostate secretes a fluid that makes up part of the semen. See our helpful guide: How To Do Prostate Massage.

Radiation Therapy

X-ray treatment that damages or kills cancer cells.

Radical Prostatectomy

Surgical removal of all of the prostate gland.

Side Effects

Secondary effects of drugs that treat disease.


A drug known by the brand name Viagra®. Sildenafil is a PDE5 inhibitor. It allows the PDE5 enzyme produced in the penis during sex to last longer. The longer the enzyme lasts, the better the chance for increased blood flow and an erection.

Tension Rings

Penis rings that are placed on the base of the penis after creating an erection with a vacuum erection device. The rings help maintain the erection by reducing blood flow out of the penis. See our helpful Penis Ring Measuring Guide.


A combination of Papavarine, Phentolamine and alprostadil. Used in penile injection therapy for the treatment of erectile dysfunction.


The tube leads from the bladder through the penis.

Urethral Suppository

A suppository is directly inserted into the opening of the urethra at the end of the penis. Tissues absorb a drug in the suppository, allowing muscles in the penis to relax. Blood flow increases, creating an erection.


A doctor who specializes in the urinary and genitourinary tract.

Vacuum Pump

This is a penis pump, and used as a treatment for erectile dysfunction. Also known as a vacuum erection device.


A vasectomy is a surgically permanent male birth control. Two tubes called the vas deferens are cut and sealed to keep vas deferens from being able to carry sperm from the testicles to the urethra, which leads to the opening of the penis. See our guide: Sterilization: Tubal Ligation & Vasectomy.


Penis Diagram


The most-prescribed treatment for erectile dysfunction (ED). Viagra is the brand name for the drug sildenafil. The drug allows increased blood flow to the penis, enabling a firm erection.


Doctors sometimes prescribe an organic alternative for intermittent erectile dysfunction. Learn more through our guide: Top 11 Herbs for Sex.

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